Last night, all was seemingly well. Ger had just gotten home, and our family of four finished our casual dinner…a mixture of chatter and Trader Joe’s entrees: happiness and contentment seated around me: letting our hair down…being ourselves…it was a perfectly imperfect night.
The evening was winding down, but just before we were all readying to “bed down” for the night, I routinely let the dog out. The sequence that followed was this: a scuttle, a blur of fur bolting past me, and oh! that smell! What is that?! Our dog got sprayed by a skunk! A direct hit between the eyes no less! The events that followed were a pathetic scene of a dog with eyes and nose running--- snorting and wincing---and me Googling furiously for the best outcome to this dilemma, trying to rectify this sudden turn-for-theworse in the course of our evening.
My son was sort of amused by it all, and my daughter was hysterically sobbing, not amused by it in the least. Our poor, beloved Coolidge whose suffering had been alleviated only somewhat by our household concoctions, was now just pitifully sad and sulking after being whipped by a skunk. After our best but frail attempts to reduce the invasive odor, Ger and I lay in bed, dozing off to sleep….touching toes. I tried to think of something positive to say. “It’s sort of reminiscent of camping in Yosemite”, I uttered in my measly stab at being cheering. But as we lay there, a realization set in that this night, though now punctuated with a bit of trauma, would probably be well remembered….even reflected on with laughter…even tenderness. And I thought to myself: this is a life poetic. Seriously.
After all, what is a poem if it does not have illustrative language where beauty is contrasted against pain? What makes said poem have depth and texture and interest is the pure splendor of variation: normalcy, trauma, humor, passion, absurdity, all in random rotation. This funky-skunky night was somehow, entirely, legitimately, poetic.
I think that sometimes people misconstrue what I mean about “The Life Poetic”. They assume I mean a life that is only beautiful…perhaps perfect even. And that’s not what I mean at all. A life poetic is not a tidy little package. My poetic life has included great beauty and love and successes even. But it has been made all the more poetic by the contrasting of things not so beautiful: the loss of my dad who I adored to a slow debilitating death, a severed relationship with my mom, the pain of watching the man you love do the best he can to fend off the demons of his past, the tension of deadline-after-deadline, the stress of financial struggles resulting from the feast & famine aspects of being self employed, the reality of coming to terms with my children’s unique needs and especially my son’s uniquely unique needs having Asperger’s Syndrome,…and well, just life. That’s the reality of it. Normalcy, trauma, humor, passion, absurdity…all in good measure.
And you know what? It is beautiful. Sometimes by the sheer grace of God, but it is.
And when we can find ways to extend ourselves in love…in the midst of our own lack…when we are able to express ourselves creatively as an expression of who God created us to be…pure poetry it is!